Hot on the heels of the recent bestowing of the Canadian Labour Congress’ Award for Outstanding Service to Humanity, CBC News reports that pioneering abortion rights activist Dr. Henry Morgentaler is now slated to be appointed to the Order of Canada:
Dr. Henry Morgentaler, who led the fight to legalize abortion in Canada, was supposed to be honoured Monday, but the ceremony has been delayed for unknown reasons, a government source told the Globe and Mail.
The honour, considered the highest in the country, is announced by the Governor General on the advice of an advisory panel.
Conservative MPs on Monday did not directly confirm the news, but stressed that appointments to the order are not made by cabinet. Nine people, including two government appointees, sit on the Order of Canada panel.
MP Maurice Vellacott, a Conservative from Saskatchewan who opposes abortion, told the Globe and Mail that he heard Morgentaler’s appointment was not unanimous.
“This is a pretty divisive issue,” he said. “I think we can all agree on that, so why would we have the highest honour in the country being issued when there is obviously a strong difference of opinion about it?”
Morgentaler, a trained family physician, argued that access to abortion was a basic human right and women should not have to risk death at the hands of an untrained professional in order to end their pregnancies.
Morgentaler’s clinics were constantly raided by his opponents, and one in Toronto was firebombed. Morgentaler was arrested several times and spent months in jail as he fought his case at all court levels in Canada.
His victory came on Jan. 28, 1988, when the Supreme Court of Canada struck down Canada’s abortion law. That law, which required a woman who wanted an abortion to appeal to a three-doctor hospital abortion committee, was declared unconstitutional.
Cue the expected weeping and gnashing of teeth from outrage-addicted Canucklehead wing-nuts, courtesy Dr Dawg:
I’m referring to the speech-warrior crowd, the people who stand up for freedom in our Stalinist wasteland, who freep the hell out of newspaper polls, who can’t even spell the name of the person they hate, the folks who make sleazy references to Morgentaler’s Jewish ethnicity.
Yup, it’s all the old familiar faces. There’s Binky, aggregating blogposts about the Mark Steyn auto-da-fé, now dutifully directing us to various vicious anti-Morgentaler posts. Funny how the taste for freedom dissipates when women’s rights are at stake. Funny how the bigotry kicks in.
Yes, that is interesting, innit? I’d once again say something about irony’s untimely demise, but I think I’ve already buried that particular line of snark six feet under (and then some). Hey, flogging a dead horse is just too cruel, even for a baby-hating feticide-apologist like yours truly (yes, I really do think).
Maclean’s columnist Andrew Potter [almost] right [except for the part about there being “no other serious champions” for reproductive freedom]:
Dr. Henry Morgentaler risked his reputation, his freedom, and his life for decades in service of a cause that had no other serious champion in this country.
He is a remarkable man who has lived a remarkable life. He deserves to be a member of the order of Canada, because, more than the vast majority of members of the Order, he has lived his life according to the motto inscribed on the medal: He desired a better country.
Or, as JJ puts it (as only she can):
I don’t give a happy monkeyfuck if “others fundamentally disagree” — they can get stuffed. Dr. Morgentaler has contributed more to Canadian women’s right to self-determination than any other individual, and has risked his life and his freedom doing it. Before he stood up for our rights, our reproductive business was dictated by the state and whatever sex-obsessed authoritarian busybodies had its ear. Not acceptable: never was, never will be, and Dr. Morgentaler sealed the deal. His Order of Canada is long overdue… .
Look, I’m not one for overt displays of patriotism, nor for possessing much in the way of ‘pride’ in my country (as opposed to hope for humanity in general, regardless of national borders). Still, giving this particular honour to someone who essentially put his career–and his life–at risk to ensure that a Canadian woman’s right to bodily autonomy is not constrained by the State makes even a staunch internationalist such as yours truly feel a twinge in ye olde chest cavity of–yes–proud nationalist sentiment–either that, or the kielbasa I ate earlier is repeating on me. In any case, don’t expect ol’ matttbastard to take a page out of Uncle Steve’s good book and start asking ‘God’ to bless Canada (although I do reserve the right to hypocritically say ‘gesundheit’ when someone sneezes in my presence).
h/t skdadl and dBO, who offers the following wry observation in response to Liberal MP Dan McTeague’s claim that “[t]he Governor-General and the committee advising on appointments to the Order of Canada have always been careful in the past not to choose people who were controversial or who would not be unanimously celebrated by all Canadians”:
One of the commenters at JJ’s reminds us that last year, there was a choice for the Order of Canada that was controversial and affronted the fundamental rightwingnutters and fetus fetishists: the Rev. Brent Hawkes.
But-but-but what about divisiveness? Or the dead babies? FOR GOD’S SAKE WON’T SOMEBODY PUHLEEASE CONSIDER THE MILLIONS AND MILLIONS OF DEAD BABIES?1?!!!11interrochittychittybangbangone
Background: more from CBC News:
Henry Morgentaler, C.M.
Member of the Order of Canada
For his commitment to increased health care options for women, his determined efforts to influence Canadian public policy and his leadership in humanist and civil liberties organizations.
Congratulations, Dr. Morgentaler.
Update 2: More from Dave at the Beav on McTeague’s bogus contention re: anodyne OoC selections.
Also, Scott Tribe in comments at Kuri’s place provides the following (scroll down, second comment):
Actually, you and everyone else should also thank Beverly Mclaughlin, chief justice of the Supreme Court, for waiving the normal requirement of a vote having to be unanimous for the panel to pass along the recommendation to the G.G.
Great. I can already envision the endless parade of unhinged harangues against our tyrannical judiciary this bit of news is sure to provoke.
Update 5: Hysperia reminds us that, while this is indeed a laudable occasion, we should try not to get too caught up in the celebrations. We still have quite a ways to go before universal access to reproductive services in Canada is achieved.
Update 6 07.03: Renee @ womanist musings on Morgentaler and the importance of reproductive liberty for lower income women.